Whats the safest way to use P2P programs?

I have heard that some people that used P2P programs have gotten into trouble for downloading illegal files like mp3s and movies. Is there any way that you can use a P2P program and not get in trouble with the law?

Welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

Even if you were to use file sharing software strictly for legitimate downloading, you will need to be very careful in how you go about setting up the software as well as using it. There are a few common mistakes people do with P2P software that puts them at risk, even if they never download a single piece of copyrighted material.

These are just a few steps to take to avoid accidentally sharing out copyrighted or other unwanted material:

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[li]When installing your file sharing software, do not allow it to scan your hard disk for media to share. If you do this, it may end up sharing out every single song, video, picture, etc. it locates, regardless of whether it is copyrighted. This is a very important, especially if you have ripped your CD collection on to your PC.
[/li][li]Once you have set up the software, configure it to use a new folder as your shared folder. It may be worth putting some freeware items in the shared folder to make it look like your are not a ‘free loader’, e.g. the latest copy of Winamp, OpenOffice, music made freely available by the author, etc. depending on your uplink bandwidth.
[/li][li]If the file sharing software offers the ability to disable the browsing of your shared files, make sure is checked. While this does not prevent your file sharing software from sharing out files, at least it prevents nosy people from remotely checking what you have shared out.
[/li][li]Periodically check the list of items your P2P application is sharing. Most P2P clients can view a list of shared items and this way you can make sure that you are not sharing out content that should not be shared out.
[/li][li]If you download something that you are not fully sure is free of copyright protection, immediately move it out of your shared folder once the download has complete. By default, file sharing software automatically shares any downloaded content, so just be warned. Some file sharing software such as eMule and BitTorrent clients even share out partially downloaded files.
[/li][/ol]
Probably the most common tip I hear people say on how to be safe on P2P networks is to not download copyrighted material at all. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, even if all a user uses P2P for is to download freeware and shareware software, music freely made available by their authors and so on, they are still at a serious risk if they accidentally let the application share out their PC’s music collection or other copyrighted material without realising it!

Anyway, as the topic about legallity of P2P programs is brought up quite a lot, I would recommend browsing about this forum as well as past news articles. Pop ‘sharing’ as a keyword in to the CDFreaks main page search field and you’ll find plenty of news articles worth reading, including past lawsuits, warnings, plans and so on. :slight_smile:

Can I also recommend you install and regularly update PeerGuardian 2 (freeware). It is software that gathers a large list of organisations you may not wish to access your PC (RIAA, MPAA etc.) and blocks them from connecting to your PC (to browse your shared files, see what you are downloading/uploading etc). It isn’t a 100% safe of course, as the lag between them changing there IP and PeerGuardian updating to block it would allow them time to theoretically connect to your PC should they really need to, also not every “anti-p2p” IP is known, so it does not leave you completely safe either way. However, for most P2P users it is still well worth having providing you update often. It does however slow down your PC when it is running, so I would suggest disabling it to start automatically with windows and run it only when you have P2P applications running.